Review Verdict: The OnePlus Nord CE 2 improves over its predecessor in key aspects like the processor and charging speeds, but it still has to play catch up to its competitors when it comes to software optimization and camera performance.
- Proven processor
- The MicroSD card slot, headphone jack are back
- Software needs optimization
- Average camera performance
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Review Philippines Specs:
- Dimensity 900 processor
- 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 128GB UFS 3.1 storage, expandable via MicroSD
- 6.43-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display, 90hz refresh rate, HDR10+ DCI-P3
- 64-megapixel f/1.8 main camera with PDAF, 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensor
- 16-megapixel f/2.4 selfie camera with EIS
- 4G, 5G
- WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, in-display fingerprint scanner
- 4500mAh battery
- 65w fast charging
- Android 11, OxygenOS 11.3
OnePlus’ new mid-range offering is now in the Philippines, and it appears to be more competitive than ever in terms of price-to-specs ratio. But with plenty of other contenders in the perenially crowded sub Php 20K market, does the Nord CE 2 still have a place in the Philippines?
Being a core edition model, the Nord CE 2 borrows a similar design language from the Nord 2 with the two large camera lenses at the back. However, the Nord CE 2 has a sleeker camera module that integrates seamlessly into the back panel. As the phone is a more affordable offering VS OnePlus’ other siblings, the phone uses a lot of plastic in its construction, including the back. To offset this, the Nord CE 2 has a premium-looking finish that hides its plastic roots convincingly, at least until you pick up the phone in your hands. The fact that the finish doesn’t attract nearly as much fingerprints when you start using it VS its pricier rivals is a big plus too.
Aside from a modern look, the Nord CE 2 brings back the headphone jack and MicroSD card slot–two features that a lot of users still want even in 2022. Like its predecessor, the Nord CE 2 has the same button and port layout–that includes a USB-C port and a bottom-firing speaker.
Display and speakers
There’s barely any change with the display on the Nord CE 2 as it practically uses the same panel as its predecessor: a 6.43-inch AMOLED panel with a 90hz refresh rate, Full HD+ resolution, HDR10 support, and an in-display fingerprint scanner. The notable change is the use of Gorilla Glass 5 on the Nord CE 2–the original CE does not use Gorilla Glass.
While the panel appears to be similar on paper, we noticed that the Nord CE 2 has better colors–it’s closer to the color accuracy of the very first Nord, which is a good thing. Brightness is also good, and it’s usable even under broad daylight. The display is great for Netflix content since it has Widevine L1.
The audio is not as impressive, as you only get a single bottom-firing speaker on the Nord CE 2. While we would clamor for a stereo speaker setup, it’s nice for OnePlus to bring back the headphone jack on the Nord CE 2 at a time when even mid-range phones are ditching it already.
The Nord CE 2 has a triple rear camera setup that consists of a 64-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and 2-megapixel macro camera, along with a 16-megapixel selfie snapper.
Overall camera performance is similar to its predecessor despite using a newer processor: the main camera does perform well in good lighting but struggles through in low light. There are times, however, that the main camera tends to apply too much post-processing.
The ultra-wide-angle camera does stay consistent with the main camera as far as color accuracy is concerned, but its lower resolution limits the amount of detail it can retain.
Things get a little interesting on the video side of things, especially with Super Steady Video. In the case of the Nord CE 2, you can actually use this mode while shooting 60FPS, giving you close to gimbal-like stability if you don’t mind the rather large crop.
Selfies on the Nord CE 2 are good. They don’t apply excessive post-processing like the main cameras, giving more natural colors and details to our selfies.
Internals and battery life
The key upgrade of the Nord CE 2 is its use of a Dimensity 900 processor. It offers a significant performance boost over the Snapdragon 750G used on its predecessor and is one of the more affordable phones to use MediaTek’s mid-range chip. Next to the Dimensity 1200 (which is used on the Nord 2), the Dimensity 900 is one of MediaTek’s best-performing chips to date.
Synthetic benchmarks show that the Dimensity 900 beats the Snapdragon 695–a 5G-ready processor commonly seen in under Php 20k phones–in synthetic benchmarks save for PCMark compute.
We’ve tested a number of phones using a Dimensity 900 processor, and it’s proven to be great with games. However, it seems that the Nord CE 2’s software is not as optimized, as performance results for Genshin Impact are lower compared to the results we got from the Reno7 and Zero 5G.
Doing the same gameplay scenario and recording the performance with Gamebench, frame drops in Genshin Impact are more noticeable on the Nord CE 2 on high graphics–something that’s not evident on the Reno7 and Zero 5G while running the same settings.
We also did the same set of tests with Asphalt 9 and Apex Legends Mobile, and our tests show that the Nord CE 2 has optimization issues with Genshin Impact. We suspect that a software fix should address this.
The battery capacity is the same as its predecessor at 4500mAh, but the Dimensity 900’s more power-efficient architecture managed to push the Nord CE 2 to last for 16 hours 11 minutes in PCMark’s battery benchmark test. Charging speeds is significantly better as well with support for 65w wired charging that can give us a full charge in under an hour.
Wrap up and conclusions
Our review of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 in the Philippines shows that while it does offer actual improvements over its predecessor last year, there are still kinks that need to be addressed–specifically on the software side of things.